Wednesday, June 16, 2010

a match made in heaven

when fine food marries fine wine, how can it get any better?

well, that is exactly what happened here last week when urban element played host to the always popular cave spring wine dinner series. this year, we were lucky to convince Executive Chef Kevin Maniaci of the Inn on the Twenty, home restaurant to Cave Spring Cellars, to join along in the fun and help re-create the passion behind their farm-to-table dining experiences.

allow me to walk you through a few of the exquisite dishes....
chef kevin maniaci places fiddleheads, morels and creamy C'est bon chevre in the shallow bowls, ready to be filled with creamy asparagus soup... how much more "spring" can you get?

Frankie Phelan asparagus soup; fresh fiddleheads, morel mushroom and C'est Bon chevre
Paired with 2007 Sauvignon Blanc Estate

yum! fish and chips!

Cave Spring Brut-battered yellow perch, potato terrine, coleslaw and green goddess sauce
Paired with 2007 Chardonnay Estate

Ontario lamb duo: roast sirloin with sweet pea tendrils and oven cured kumato and 'shepherd’s pie' of braised shank, wild leek and parsnip with porcini gravy
Paired with 2007 Pinot Noir Dolomite

communal dining at its best...the group is captivated by winery principle, Tom Pennachetti

with an early strawberry season upon us, the answer for dessert is simple.....
Whitty Farm strawberry trio: parfait, sorbet and soufflé, paired with 2007 Riesling Indian Summer - absolutely delightful

if you have not visited the Inn, you must! plan a trip this summer, see the vineyards, taste the wines, dine in style. Cave Spring wine and food is simply stated, a match made in heaven.

(stay tuned for the next installation and our take on unique culinary road trips - niagara is our next destination!)


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

sheep as lawnmowers

Did you know that this is the latest fad in Italy and France? I just heard this on the radio.

This type of sheep is not ideal for meat, and apparently are very picky eaters. They love grass, they don't hop into your garden... A company in Lyon now "rents" them to mow your lawn. It has been such a success that their 220 sheep are fully booked until the end of August. Italy now has over 700 registered sheep-mowers. If you are a bit concerned about them getting adventurous and gastronome, you can also "rent" a shepherd.

I would *maybe* trade in my Gardena push mower for a little woolly friend...


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

prince edward county adventures

i love roadtrips and weekend getaways.

as a young child i think i was bribed into road trips by my parents with the lure that we would stop somewhere fun for lunch (yes, i was predisposed for this industry)

i look forward to-recapping a few of my most favourite food getaways over the last few months. first on the list: prince edward county - a wine haven in ottawa's backyard - and its no longer a well-kept secret!

put these places on your must visit list if you find yourself in "the county" this summer....

fifth town artisan cheese - if you have time, arrange a tour in advance and plan to spend a couple hours onsite canada's only LEED certified dairy. the cheese caves are just amazing. prepare for a sensory overload. (the dairy is now serving ottawa's own pascale's ice cream, too! we devoured her honey lavender combo made with fifth town goat milk).

the wine route offers endless possibilities for long leisurely drives through the county down winding country roads which open up a sea of blue to the bay of quinte. on our way back to picton, we drove through the region waupoos. i've been told that the county cider company (which specializes in hard ciders made from fermented apples) offers one of the most spectacular views from their farm and tasting site. indeed, on this clear and sunny day, we could see for miles!

the shop offers tutored tastings of all apple ciders including their award winning prince edward county ice cider (my chosen summer sipper is the peach cider - pressed with ontario niagara peaches, yum!) and a sunny outdoor patio offers a great spot to linger with friends over lunch.

we were delighted to come across some new wineries this year - hinterland wines (horray for sparkling rose!), and the old third winery, strictly concentrating on pinot noir. it just so happened that the day we visited, it was their first day open to the public and recently had a favorable review from respected wine journalist and educator, david lawrason. bruno and jens were gracious hosts and let us into their cellar for a few sneak peaks (and tastes!) of future vintages. as pinot noir fans, and from what we tasted, we'll definitely be watching the old third evolve... (here is bruno below, extracting a sampling from their next vintage of pinot)

and finally, after much anticipation, we finally made it to norm hardie winery during this trip. norm truly has to be producing some of the best chardonnay and pinot noir in this region. as gracious and hospitable as always, norm walked us around his grounds, excitedly sharing his future vision for a fully integrated and sustainable farm (think heirloom vegetable gardens that provide product for wood-fire pizzas - soon to come - and pigs that will one day provide proscuitto, amongst other efforts). in addition to sampling his spectacular chardonnay and pinot noir, norm uncorked some of his 2009 Melon de Bourgogne for tasting. this wine delivers lime and citrus notes with loads of minerality - a perfect summer wine served as an apéritif or with light summer fare. on this hot day, it definitely hit the spot!

this is simply a taste of what prince edward county offers, but they are some of our highlights from a recent spring road trip. feel free to email me if you wish for suggestions on where to stay and eat if you end up taking a roadtrip to the county of your own this summer - i sure hope you do!